This month I want to honor and encourage fathers. I also want to challenge Dads to the very high standard of their God-given responsibility to their children. “ . . . Children are a gift of the Lord . . . like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one’s youth.” (Psalm 127:3) Parenting is hard work, but God is faithful to supply all that we need to parent well and aim our children like arrows towards knowing Jesus. Children are a precious treasure that we are called to steward well. When they are grown, they will represent us and the Lord well or they will not. The formative years of childhood pass quickly and fathers and mothers must be diligent in how they mold the precious lives entrusted to them. Someday the cement of their character will be set and difficult to change. Though the parenting years are demanding of time and energy, we must treasure the opportunities of those years.
In early childhood, children are very trusting of their mom and dad. We have freedom to mold them for better or worse. They accept what we say whether it is true or not. Our correct words and deeds teach them how to interpret life. Equally significant are our corrupt words and deeds. Through words and deeds, the unconditional trust young children originally have for their parents is either strengthened or weakened. They will ultimately learn whether we are worthy of their trust or not.
While Moms are nurturing and comforting, God-honoring Dads are the primary source of security for their children. The significance of an honorable, truth-telling, righteous man cannot be overestimated. Dads, you cannot lead your children in the way they should go, if you are not living it. Children are very discerning. If you say one thing and do another, they conclude that it cannot really be that important. They correctly believe that if something is really important, Dad will do it too. You cannot lead them down a path you are not traveling.
Be intentional about training them in Godly character through your words and actions. Model the character you want them to exhibit. Godly character includes love of God, love of your spouse, honesty, faithfulness, compassion and forgiveness, purity and holiness. Apologize when you are wrong and when you sin. Do not give them the impression that you think you are never wrong. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not a sign of weakness to acknowledge wrong doing and apologize. Children are observant and they know when we have done wrong. They need to hear us apologize and repent of sin or they will learn to also not repent and apologize.
Communicate to your children four essential security truths:
You are loved. Be sure your love for your children is unconditional and that they know it. Give them hugs and kisses.
You are safe with me. Be a safe person they can talk to, trust, and turn to at all times.
You are capable. Tell them they are capable as opposed to being “so smart.” Saying they are smart communicates that things should come easily for them. Saying they are capable encourages them to keep trying when something does not come easily.
You are responsible. Encourage your children in age-appropriate responsibilities so that they learn to connect choices with consequences and learn to accept personal responsibility as opposed to blaming others.
The best Dads accept their personal God-given responsibility of leading their family in righteousness. Righteous Dads teach the importance of family identity and model understanding and compassion, encouragement, self-control in words and tone, and a sincere love, trust, and respect for God and His Word.
Dads must walk the walk as well as talk the talk. The best Dads exhibit the fruit of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. . .” Galatians 5:22.
Don’t be a stumbling block to your children by tolerating sin in your life. Be careful to lead them in righteousness.
Thank you to all the Dads who love God and walk with Jesus. Happy Father’s Day, Dads!